Two Clips From The Cohen Hearing Need To Be Seen By All

[ Posted Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 – 18:29 UTC ]

I watched all of Michael Cohen's hearing today in front of the House government oversight committee, from beginning to end. Due to this exhausting task, I'm not going to comment on the entire hearing and the ramifications of what was said until tomorrow. I feel I need some time to process everything, and let it sink in and percolate for a while before attempting to write my reactions to it. So my apologies in advance for the lack of a full column today.

Cohen, in essence, laid out a roadmap of further investigatory avenues for House Democrats to explore in the coming weeks. As usual, some of the questioners were better than others and some of the time (including almost all of the Republicans' time) wound up largely wasted. But again, I'll be getting to all of that tomorrow.

However, I did want to take the time today to point out two extraordinary moments in the hearing, because I would be willing to bet that many (if not most) viewers missed them. They both happened after the lengthy two-hour lunch (and floor vote) break in the hearing, and not many viewers were stalwart enough to stick through this delay to the very end.

When the hearing resumed, there were only a handful of representatives left to ask questions. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of them, but the most eyebrow-raising moment was definitely a tussle over an accusation of racism made by Representative Rashida Tlaib against Representative Mark Meadows that had to be carefully defused by the chairman of the committee, Elijah Cummings.

But after this, and after a lengthy bit of process as Republicans entered into the record all the articles and documents they had previously forgotten to, there were closing remarks from Cummings, from the ranking Republican member of the committee, and from Cohen himself.

If you didn't watch any of the hearing today, or even if you watched the four-plus hours of the first phase of the hearing but skipped the second phase, you still should take the time to view both Cohen's closing statement (he went first, at the end), and the extraordinary final speech by Cummings. Both should really be seen as required viewing by all, for different reasons.

In his closing statement, Cohen took his time to directly address the president, in the second person. All of his statements were prefaced by: "You..." -- the most memorable of which (to me) was: "You respect the memory of America's veterans, even when it is raining," a reference to Donald Trump's shameful refusal to do so at a centenary memorial to the end of World War I in France (all Trump cared about was the military parade, if you'll remember). Cohen's closing statement is well worth watching, because it shows one man's pent-up disgust at what Donald Trump has become since he became president. It is powerful, in a way no previous rebuke to Trump really has been to date.

But even this was overshadowed by the closing statement from Cummings. This was one of the most extraordinary and heartfelt political speeches I have ever heard, and it was delivered on the theme of both: "We are better than this as a country," and: "We need to fight for democracy and return American politics to the normal it once was, before the rise of Trump."

So please, everyone, take the time and watch these two video clips. Cohen's is a personal and direct rebuke of the president himself, delivered directly to him through the television screen, and Cummings summed up how millions of Americans -- both those who support Trump and those who don't, as he pointed out -- have felt about the degradation of political norms in this country over the past two years.

I'll have plenty of time tomorrow to rehash today's momentous hearing in much more detail. But for the time being, please take the time to view these two clips in their entirety if you haven't seen them yet (or even if you've just seen excerpts or soundbites). It is rare to see such frankness and raw emotion at any congressional hearing, and the power of both men's statements truly needs to be viewed by all who care about the future of American politics.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


19 Comments on “Two Clips From The Cohen Hearing Need To Be Seen By All”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    Biggest takeaway: Republicans have one goal - protecting Blotus. To that end they asked no questions about the Cohen's allegations or evidence, instead using their time to call Cohen a liar, postulate conspiracies by the Dems to unfairly attack Blotus, wax outraged at the notion that Cohen might someday get a book deal and would keep the money from it, and declare themselves shocked and appalled that Dems were wasting everyone's time by holding hearings about something as trivial as a criminal POTUS.

    With the exception of Justin? Amash? they were almost comic in their rages, bullying, tears and vapors. Over and over I found myself aghast that any of these moronic-liars actually sit in Congress.

    Second takeaway: Blotus committed a variety of financial and election-related crimes in the presence of and often with the assistance of Micheal Cohen.

    Cohen handled himself well and got off a few snappy comebacks along the way. He ended up looking more honest, more intelligent, and more patriotic, than any/all of the Repubs.

    Third takeaway: AOC is great at these hearings. She asks clear and specific questions quickly, eliciting useful information for the committee.

    Fourth takeaway: Blotus's accountant needs to be put on the stand.

    Important note: Adam Schiff's committee is working on the Russia-related crime stuff - today's committee did not and was not intended to address that area.

    Re: clips CW mentioned. I think Rashida Tlaib was correct in noting Meadow's use of a black-woman-as-prop to prove Blotus isn't a racist was, itself, racist. Poor sensitive Meadows was incensed however and I thought it was kind of horrible to see Cummings having to soothe Meadows. To his credit Cummings didn't throw Tlaib under the bus and she, somewhat unconvincingly, retreated from the clear implication Meadows was a racist to the action by "someone" being racist. When all the smoke had cleared away I think Meadows looked like a racist, Cummings looked torn between that truth and his friendship with Meadows, and Tlaib looked pushed to a semi-retraction that she didn't believe.

    As for Cumming's conclusion my feelings were mixed. I share his distress and outrage, but I disagree with "we're better than this" coz clearly some folks are not. The Repub display of party/DJT over country today made that clear. Getting back to normal requires getting those people out of power - nothing else will work. And after they're out there needs to be penalties so they can't just reappear in 5 or 10 years like Oliver Stone, Elliot Abrams, etc.

  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    Also David Pecker needs to testify.

  3. [3] 
    Kick wrote:

    Well then, I await with bated a.k.a. abated breath.

    Could you please explain in your "rehash" tomorrow why it was that not a single Republican endeavored to cross-examine the witness or to defend Benedict Donald's honor by asking a single question about Comrade Trump's signature being firmly affixed on that giant check with Mikey Cohen's name on it?

    Thanking you in advance. ;) *winky wink*

  4. [4] 
    TheStig wrote:


    I had a different takeaway. Republicans reps were coddling Trump's Maga base. Doing so may not keep Trump around for a second term, but will probably be enough to keep them in their gerrymanded districts until the dust settles and they try for another 2 yrs.


    I think it better to let prosecutors preprocess Pecker a while longer before letting him have the microphone. He'll sing better with a warmup.

    Yesterdays hearing vividly illustrated how slow speech is compared to the written word. My guess is by a factor of four.'s commitment to the written word is actually high least for the reader, if not the writer.

  5. [5] 
    TheStig wrote:

    A hit man is convicted for his most recent killing. The hit man goes before a Republican prosecutor and offers to take him to a dozen other victims in unknown shallow graves.
    Oh no says the Republican prosecutor....."I can't trust you because you are convicted killer. I think you are lying. Take him away boys."

    Kind of reminds me of what went down from Republican team yesterday. Cohen gave the cops a couple of storage lockers full of potential corroboration. Why so un-curious? Feet hurt? Mold allergy? Inquiring minds ought tonwant to know.

  6. [6] 
    Bleyd wrote:

    I think of all the players in yesterday's spectacle, the one who came out of it looking the best may well have been Elijah Cummings. At least to me, he seemed to have been rather fair-minded, largely staying in the background to allow both sides to get their words in, but taking control when necessary. When disputes arose, he seemed to handle them with a firm, but fair hand. And then the closing, as CW said, one of the best political speeches I've heard. I can only hope that it gets a lot of play in the media so everyone can hear it and the message he was delivering.

  7. [7] 
    Kick wrote:


    Re: clips CW mentioned. I think Rashida Tlaib was correct in noting Meadow's use of a black-woman-as-prop to prove Blotus isn't a racist was, itself, racist.

    While I generally hate to put labels on things *wink*, what else would you call morons like Meadows and Trump who believe that hiring black and/or brown people is requisite proof that one cannot possibly be a racist? Additionally, I don't know about the rest of you, but I would wager every one of us knows a person who has a child who married outside his/her race and had children who didn't manage to magically erase the racism that existed in their grandfather the instant they were born. In my mind, that is simply one tiny step removed from "I have a colored friend" and laughable on it's face.

    Poor sensitive Meadows was incensed however and I thought it was kind of horrible to see Cummings having to soothe Meadows.

    I know, right!? Snowflake Meadows couldn't contain himself from stopping the entire proceedings and had to be helped back into his safe space by Mr. Cummings.

    When all the smoke had cleared away I think Meadows looked like a racist, Cummings looked torn between that truth and his friendship with Meadows, and Tlaib looked pushed to a semi-retraction that she didn't believe.

    Do you think the GOP snowflake would have insisted on clarification from a white guy who had used the exact same language or do you think Ms. Tlaib's gender or color might have factored into his mini meltdown?

    I mean, it's not like Mark Meadows ever stood in front of a crowd of people and uttered something stupid like "2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is." Oh, wait:

    So why on Earth would anyone think Meadows was a racist? How could a guy who associates with brown people ever be a racist, not to mention being a misogynist? If only some of our slave-owning forefathers were around to explain it to us... Thomas Jefferson perhaps. :)

  8. [8] 
    Paula wrote:

    Also of note whole final slate of Dems did good work.

    Via Rep. Ro Khanna: "Executive 2" was Trump Jr.

    Rep. Jimmy Gomez: Blotus' taxes not under audit - Blotus refuses to release them coz he fears "experts" would review them and discover stuff that would get him in trouble.

    Rep. Ocasio-Cortez focused on DJT overvaluing his properties to show off and undervalueing his properties for IRS.

    Rep. Ayanna Pressley confirming Blotus buying his own portrait & paying for it with Trump Foundation funds among other things.

    Thinking back I wish someone had asked for details about some of the 500+ times Cohen threatened someone on Blotus' behalf.

  9. [9] 
    Paula wrote:

    [4] TS: yeah repubs were coddling the deplorables and there's nothing acceptable about that under these circumstances. But they were also covering GOP asses: as was mentioned but not delved into (missed opportunity?), Cohen was co-chair or Finance Chair of the RNC for awhile.

    As for Pecker - I suppose. I wonder if he has anything that would hurt Mueller if it came out now? It seems he'd have a lot of stuff that would illustrate what a skeevy slimy operator DJT has been for years that might not be "criminal" or impeachable but would help flesh out DJT scumbaggery AND damage Pecker and his publication. It would be great if Pecker got nailed for dirty deeds.

  10. [10] 
    Paula wrote:

    [7] Kick: Yep!

  11. [11] 
    Paula wrote:

    Oh, and the biggie: Cohen was in the room when Roger Stone called and told Blotus there was going to be an massive HRC email dump.

  12. [12] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    With this president I have the morbid habit of checking what the right wing media is following during events like this and interestingly enough, Faux News led with the testimony on their splash page over the vacation in Vietnam.

    Is it just me or is anyone else around here surprised that the NK talks "broke down" right after Cohen's testimony?

  13. [13] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Paula [11]: A Hallmark moment.

  14. [14] 
    TheStig wrote:


    I consider the current National Inquirer to be News Pornography targeted to old women who haven't figured out electronic media.* I semi-fondly remember the old Pre-Pecker National Inquirer, when it was mostly about Celebrity diseases (the headline always started with Brave...),ESP, flying saucers, and freaks. Bat Boy? Whatever became of Bat Boy? NI headlines were something to laugh about while I waited in the checkout line at the grocery. I even kept a notebook with the best headlines..."Bizzare Children Cry Rocks" sticks with me. I lost the notebook years ago.

    I don't what Pecker has stashed in his Safe of Salacious Oddities, but if had anything on Mueller I think he would have played that card a long time ago. Still, Pecker just went after Bezos, although that seems about smart as annoying a mother bear by playing catch with her cubs (I'm referencing an old Far Side Cartoon for that image). Bezos can out-lawyer Pecker by several orders of magnitude. Hell, Bezos can sick drones on a whole new twist to the term "capture and kill." Prime Video has an Episode in its Philip K. Dick series about Amazon like drones and 'bots gone horribly wrong. Worth a watch.

    This whole Trump Era is getting about as "fun" as the Nixon Years - but turbo charged to double the speed.

    *Yes, this is sexist, but I have never, ever witnessed a man actually buy a copy of this publication.

  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Paula [1] -

    Yeah, I agree about the GOP. Most astonishing was when one guy said the committee should really be looking into the child-separation policy at the border. Since when has a single Republican cared about that? Heh.

    I believe it was Justin Amash, and I found his questions pretty extraordinary. Wasn't he the one who asked what Cohen's biggest fear was, too?

    I was impressed with all the freshman (AOC especially) who actually used their five minutes to get some answers about "who should we look at next?" A lot of the more experienced Dems absolutely squandered their time, in my opinion.

    Actually, I just wrote about your third and fourth takeaway, so check out today's new post:

    Meadows is now on the spot about a number of "Obama should get sent back to Kenya" campaign quotes today, I notice...

    I thought Cummings did a good job refereeing this too, as the rules for Congress state that they can never actually call each other names directly. So if she had done that, she would have been afoul of the rules. But calling "an act" racist doesn't qualify, so like I said I thought Cummings and Tlaib did a good job of getting past it.

    Kick [2] -

    Heh. I took a more expansive view today, but I'm going to spend some time dissecting the hearing in much more detail Friday, promise...

    TheStig [4] -

    Yesterdays hearing vividly illustrated how slow speech is compared to the written word. My guess is by a factor of four.'s commitment to the written word is actually high least for the reader, if not the writer.

    Thanks for the kind words. You bring up an interesting point I've often noticed. When I wake up in the morning and find out there was (for instance) a Trump press conference while I was still asleep, I don't usually try to find it on YouTube, instead I look for a transcript (the WashPost is usually pretty good about posting them). I can read the entire transcript in about 5-10 minutes, when watching the thing would take a whole hour. I too find the written word to be a whole lot quicker, personally.

    Even more personally, an amusing footnote:

    Last night, being a West Coast late owl, I got to see the Trump Hanoi presser live! Woo hoo! They broke into late-night TV around 11:30 (my time) and so I got to watch it live instead of a Colbert rerun. While the whole East Coast slumbered...

    It's usually the other way around, so it felt good to be on the winning end of the time zone shuffle for once... heh...

    [5] -

    You know what struck me about the GOP response? They're undermining their larger case when it comes to protecting Trump at all costs.

    Their background argument, for months, has been that all those who have pled guilty or been convicted are n't "real crimes" but merely "process crimes," which are supposed to be so minor as to not even be worth noticing.

    Then Cohen's testimony comes, and they can't decry his crimes loud enough. But the thing is -- they're the same crimes. Lying to investigators. Bank fraud. Etc.

    So they wound up making a stronger case that Trump is surrounded by criminals than before. Brilliant!

    Bleyd [6] -

    I fully agree about Cummings. He did a great job, all around.

    Kick [7] -

    Thanks for the link!


    Paula [8] -

    That's an excellent list. Mind if I crib from it for tomorrow's column?


    TheStig [14] -

    I hear you, but you may be conflating the National Enquirer (which I've never bought) with Weekly World News (which I would buy occasionally just for fun). They were the "Bat Boy" ones, if memory serves. Their most memorable story arc for me was "I Was Bigfoot's Love Slave," personally...


    On headlines in general, can't remember whether this one was real or just an amusing bit of fiction, but the best-ever headline in my memory (real or not) has to be: "Decapitation In Topless Bar"

    I remember Bloom County's newspaper editor, when Milo would bring him a story for a snappy headline, too. This was all a dig at the Washington Post by Breathed, but the headlines were hilarious...



  16. [16] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    If I remember, it was the New York Post, no slouch when it comes to snappy headlines:

    "Headless body in topless bar"

    Memory be darned, I couldn't resist digging into this one, which I vaguely remember from my youth in New York City in the 80s.

    Here's a review of the immortal headline, "the greatest headline in New York newspaper history", in the context of the genius who wrote it.

  17. [17] 
    Kick wrote:


    I consider the current National Inquirer to be News Pornography targeted to old women who haven't figured out electronic media.*

    *Yes, this is sexist, but I have never, ever witnessed a man actually buy a copy of this publication.

    The old men subscribe to it so no one but the postman sees. ;)

    Great post, TS. I got something for you. I read an article yesterday on 538 about how the Enquirer covered Trump "Pre-Pecker"... before March 1999.

    And on Nov. 9, 1999, Trump’s own byline appeared in the tabloid — a practice that would continue with a column during the 2016 election — above a photo of the White House. The headline reads: “Why I Should Be President.”

    Since Pecker, Trump has frequently used the Enquirer to push his agenda, including his run for POTUS. The righties really should disavow themselves of the ridiculous notion that Trump is a political neophyte. He ran for the Reform Party with Roger Stone as his campaign chairman and stated that Oprah Winfrey would be his ideal running mate. He ended up dropping out on Valentine's Day 2000 because he said he didn't want to be associated with a Party that would associate with David Duke, criticizing the rhetoric of Pat Buchannan (the eventual nominee) for its racism and divisiveness.

    For the 2016 election cycle, Trump adopted the Buchanan rhetoric, and here we are.

  18. [18] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW-15. You are correct, it was The Weekly World News (aka The Weakly World "News"). TheStig regrets the error. I wish I hadn't lost that notedbook.

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:


    OMG... The Weekly World News!

    My favorites were the stories about the Clinton's political alliance with extraterrestrials and Hillary having the child of her alien boyfriend by the name of P'Lod!

    My crew and I used to get quite a few laughs about P'Lod and how his name was properly pronounced. Playing around with the various possibilities is infinitely a hoot, but I eventually won them over to my way of thinking that it was likely pronounced "pee load." ;)

Comments for this article are closed.